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DHS inspector general placed on leave days after release of child care fraud report

Carolyn Ham still holds her position, and claims she's being scapegoated.
Carolyn Ham DHS

The inspector general of the Minnesota Department of Human Services has been placed on leave just days after the release of a state audit report into fraud in the child care assistance program (CCAP).

The report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor released last Wednesday could not substantiate previous claims of child care fraud totaling in excess of $100 million, nor that any of the state's child care funding was being funneled out of the country and falling into the hands of terror groups.

However, the report did find that the amount of fraud that exists within CCAP was likely greater than the approximately $5-6 million uncovered by prosecutors, though it couldn't say with any certainty how much fraud there is. 

What's more, during the course of the investigation they found a "serious rift" between fraud investigators who believe there's rampant fraud in the system, and DHS officials who disagree.

Among those officials is Inspector General Carolyn Ham, who the DHS confirmed to Bring Me The News on Monday is now "on leave."

The spokeswoman said that the reasons she's been placed on leave are not being made public because of the "data practices act," adding that Ham is still an employee of the DHS and continues to hold the title of inspector general.

But a complaint was filed against Ham in the wake of last week's report, with Ham telling MPR News she believes she is being scapegoated for the problems within the department.

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She says that the reason for the "serious rift" with CCAP fraud investigators is because she was "pushing them on their unsubstantiated beliefs" that 50 percent of child care assistance recipients are getting the money fraudulently (ie. the $100M claim).

Nonetheless, the outcome of the report prompted some Republican lawmakers to call for fraud investigators to be able to work with greater independence from the DHS, something that was recommended in the audit report.

The position of DHS inspector general was created in 2011 to detect fraud within state programs, the Star Tribune notes.

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